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Truck: Almirola pushes Busch to Talladega win
1 November 2009
In 298 previous starts in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series, owner Billy Ballew never had gotten a 1-2 finish from his teams.
Scratch that off the bucket list.
With a push from teammate Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch surged past Todd Bodine in the final quarter-mile of Saturday's Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway to win his sixth race of the season and the 15th of his career. Almirola ran second, and Ballew had his first 1-2 after 300 combined starts.
The race concluded with a green-white-checkered flag finish that took the event four laps beyond its scheduled distance of 94 laps. Busch led the field to a restart on Lap 97 after contact between, Bodine, Mike Skinner and Johnny Sauter ignited an 11-truck wreck on the backstretch on Lap 91.
Heavily damaged in the melee was the No. 33 Chevrolet of series leader Ron Hornaday Jr., who lost two laps and finished 17th. Matt Crafton, second in the standings, came home 10th and trimmed Hornaday's lead to 202 points.
"I owe everything to Aric Almirola today," Busch said. "From that last pit stop to the end, I told him that, if he just stayed with me, they wouldn't be above to beat the 15 (Almirola) and the 51 (Busch). Awesome job to Aric. He can take half of my pay after today."
The last remark was tongue-in-cheek, given that Busch provides driving services to Ballew without compensation.
Almirola was thrilled to get the 1-2 finish for Ballew, but he was disappointed not to be the "1" in the equation.
"I'm just proud of Billy Ballew and all these guys on his race team, man," Almirola said. "His 300th start -- for him to win in that fashion, that was pretty cool. Everybody said in practice that when me and Kyle got hooked up, it didn't matter who was in front or behind. We were just really, really fast.
"I'm just disappointed. I told Billy before the race started that I wanted it to be a 1-2 finish, but I wanted to be '1' some kind of bad."
To Bodine, the difference was the help Almirola was able to give to Busch.
"Kyle had a teammate right behind him, and that's what you have to have in (superspeedway) racing," said Bodine, who took the lead on Lap 97 with a push from Crafton only to fall to third at the end.
Terry Cook finished fourth, followed by David Starr and Mario Gosselin. Stacy Compton, Dennis Setzer, Justin Hobgood and Crafton completed the top 10.
Toyota swept the top five places and clinched the series manufacturers championship.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News
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